“Digital learning can have tremendous potential for extending teachers’ reach … but that potential can only be realized if the technology decisions are made based on sound educational policies. They can’t be based on ill-informed choices or fed by marketing,” she said.
In fact, the effective integration of technology into instruction requires more, and not less, of teachers, including more time and more support.
“Decisions about implementing digital learning technologies ought to be done with teachers, and not to them,” Ucelli-Kashyap said. “Teachers are integral to efforts to use technology to reach students.”
Equity remains an ever-present challenge to technology initiatives, and ensuring that low-income students and high-need schools have access to digital resources is key.
“Digital learning opportunities must enhance equity, rather than exacerbate equity,” she said. While the digital divide is narrowing, schools that serve high-poverty populations often have less access to high-speed internet and other tools that those students need. “We want to provide, for all kids, the kinds of exciting opportunities we’ve been hearing about this afternoon.”
And while mobile technologies generate some of the most buzz, there is not yet a complete replacement for wired access—therefore, equity remains a big issue.
Ensuring that schools understand social networking’s potential in education is important, too.
“There’s really a fine balance to strike between safety and access,” Ucelli-Kashyap said. “Districts have a responsibility to prevent access to inappropriate content, so sometimes it’s just easier to prevent any access at all.”
Stakeholders should promote better education about how to use technologies, including social networking technologies, more effectively.
“Technology is not a panacea, but it sure can be a terrific tool,” Ucelli-Kashyap said.